The Faculty of Psychology was officially founded in 1983. While this makes it young in comparison to other faculties, its creation was a relatively long process, and it therefore reflects both the drive of youth and the experience inherited from a long and productive history.
In fact, the evolution of psychology in our society – like the evolution of so many things – was suddenly disrupted by the Spanish Civil War and the difficult times that ensued. Although before 1936 psychology had only a minimal presence at Spanish universities and was addressed through the prism of philosophy, its contributions to health, medicine, education and law constituted a body of knowledge and techniques with considerable social value. Yet many of the people who contributed to this field were exiled or forced to suspend their work, and it was some thirty years before psychology would reemerge as a discipline and reclaim its place in higher education.
During the second half of the 1960s, a group of professors trained outside Spain created in Madrid and Barcelona the first professional colleges for psychologists. The one in Barcelona was located at the city’s old town and was directed by Dr Miguel Siguán from its opening in 1966 until the year its activities ceased, in 1975.
The first promotions of psychologists from this college and some of its members, together with professors from other colleges like the Engineer's College; faculties like Medicine and Law; and other from different sections of the Faculty of Philosophy (Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Education) joined the teaching staff of the Psychology section of the Faculty of Philosophy when in 1968 it moved to the headquarters in Plaça Universitat.
The Psychology section was a success. First of all, because the teaching staff was aware and enthusiastic about the promotion of course studies and research programmes in this discipline, which was already highly developed in the rest of Europe and the United States, but still virgin in our country. Their work was like that of pathfinders. Secondly, because young students had long ago started demanding official university course studies in Psychology, thus, when the section was established, it received an avalanche of students, increasing year after year. Even though the academic curriculum (Maluquer programme) established two common years in the philosophy pathway and only three specialized courses, the activity was unstoppable. Between 1969 and 1970 the first issue of the Anuario de Psicología was published, and laboratories of statistics and psychophysiology were set up, attracting a large amount of students interested in research.
Most certainly, the facilities of the Faculty of Philosophy and particularly those assigned to the Psychology section were becoming small. The situation was serious to the point that, while the construction of a new building (Les Cúpules) in the Diagonal Campus was on its way, between 1971 and 1975, the Psychology section went through a real migratory adventure. Part of the section remained at the headquarters and the rest moved to the Escola d’Alts Estudis Mercantils, even though classes were also taught in the faculties of Economics, Physics, Chemistry and Law. For that reason, professors and students had to cross the Diagonal avenue many times a day, with utter normality. In 1973, due to a new academic plan (Suárez Plan), the Faculty of Philosophy was divided in the faculties of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, Philology, and Geography and History, all of them expected to be placed in the Les Cúpules building. By the time of the inauguration in 1975, the building was already too small. Temporary classrooms and pavilions for Psychology had to be set up. This provisional situation lasted until 1996.
Meanwhile, the Psychology section was moved from the Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Sciences to the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, and the departments of General Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Psychobiology and Personality were created. This changing process, affecting research and teaching, concluded in 1983 with the creation of an independent Faculty of Psychology and a complete course study. Therefore, the certificates of psychologists graduated from 1983 onwards state that they are graduates in Psychology, unlike before.
These transformations were not exclusive for Psychology, the entire University and its statutes were changing. The most important change was the creation of the divisions: thematic units that matched faculties that shared teaching and research interests, professor hiring, student support, equipments, etc. Faculties ascribed to a Division made decisions through their representatives in specific commissions and in the Division Council – the final decisory unit which had the responsibility to periodically choose a president.
Even though Psychology encompasses many different professional fields, the Faculty of Psychology was associated to the faculties of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry and the School of Nursing to form the Health Sciences Division, because its main interest was in health issues, and could cover the rest of the fields under this same umbrella. This association lasted until 2003, when a new statute upgrade restored faculties to the old model, exclusively dependent of the Rector's Office, as is the case in most Spanish universities.
Since psychologists from the University of Barcelona and other universities have proved the functions, effectiveness and wealthness of psychological interventions in several aspects of the individual and social reality, the interest of young students, the labor market and society in general for this discipline has continuously increased. The large number of students, the evolution of the discipline as well as the renewal of teaching methods again proved that the facilities were unfit. For this and other reasons, in 1996 the Faculty of Psychology moved to Llars Mundet, present-day Mundet Campus, which was previously adapted to host Psychology and other degrees.
Nowadays, the Faculty of Psychology is a large faculty, not just in terms of facilities, but also because of its scientific outcomes. It has modern installations, well-equipped laboratories, excellent academic resources and a long list of features that guarantee students access to an updated training, not just at an undergraduate level, but also with the university official master’s degrees, postgraduate degrees and other training programs. These are essential for the personal and professional development of future psychologists, heirs to a long tradition. Young students who will have to respond to society’s demands from Psychology in the short, middle and long term. Wherever they choose to develop their careers, they will be responsible for the scientific development and future of Psychology.
Mª del Carmen Giménez, PhD
Barcelona, October 2004